On the ICC Arrest Warrant

5 Mar

Every media outlet is giving a voice to a plethora of self appointed political pundits, common-sense-loathing activists, and confused citizens of the earth, all trying to make sense of the International Criminal Court’s issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Omar Al-Bashir.  However, the one voice that seems to have been muffled by the pandemonium surrounding the issue is that of the Sudanese citizen. I ask: what about me Luis Ocampo? What about the millions of Sudanese citizens that have clearly demonstrated their opposition to your request to arrest our president? Is it justice when an outsider intervenes in my country’s affairs? Whatever happened to democracy? I might just agree with presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail who described the move as ‘neo-colonization.’

The ICC has shown its lackadaisical disregard for concerns of erosion of North Sudanese unity with the semi-autonomous South, and completely ignored the pan-Arab solidarity with the Sudanese President to protect the sovereignty of Sudan-all in the name of elusive justice.

The human in me is cheering for even the mere symbolic attainment of justice for the thousands of lives that perished as a result of the Darfur conflict. The president should be held responsible for inhumane actions committed by him, his army, and/or the paramilitary activities conducted under his watch. I would be hard-pressed to find a person who believes Omar Al-Bashir is an entirely innocent man. He is not innocent, but what is he guilty of? Well apparently everything but genocide– the very label that fueled the debate on whether or not to indict the Sudanese president.

On the other hand, the pragmatist in me is questioning the effectiveness of the ICC’s decision, and the extent of ‘justice’ it will provide for the victims of the Darfur conflict. It could be too early for the man on the street to speculate, but I sincerely hope that Luis Ocampo and the ICC have a follow-up plan to assuage the commotion caused by the indictment of a sitting head of state. Does the ICC consider this the end result, or a starting point in the quest of peace and justice in Sudan? This question remains unanswered.

I regret that the inappropriately overzealous Luis Ocampo and the ICC exploited the conflict in Darfur to flex their muscles and show that the newly formed court is a judicial institution with teeth. More than two hundred thousand people have been killed– I regret that the ICC chose to react after the fact. Most of all, I regret that the ICC has deprived Sudanese citizens of the chance to determine the fate of their own country’s president through democratic means.

Regardless of Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s innocence or culpability, as a concerned Sudanese citizen I am worried that Sudan might be left without a leader with enough political reach or gravitas to keep the nation in one piece–literally.

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21 Responses to “On the ICC Arrest Warrant”

  1. Eu March 5, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    The ICC has been used by the Security Council as a political tool to induce regime change in Sudan.

    It doesn’t look like it’s worked or that it’s going to happen.

    Sudan is the largest country in Africa and borders 9 other countries.

    A break-down of governmental authority would be disastrous to the region. Moreoso than the thousands who have been killed in Darfur. The stakes should be obviously too high for anyone with any geo-political perspective.

    President Bashir is currently enjoying high levels of popular support all over Sudan.
    The Sudanese opposition – Democratic Unionist Party, Umma, SPLM, all apart from Turabi’s party are united against an arrest warrant for the President.

    The Sudanese government mis-managed the crisis in Darfur. The Ethiopian government purposefully brutalised the Somalian populace when they invaded the country in 2006/2007.
    The Israeli government brutalised the Gazan population recently in a similar manner.
    And the same goes for the Sri Lankan government and the Tamils.
    International justice cannot and I repeat ‘cannot’ be selective!

    The Darfur crisis is a trojan horse for powers that be to hegemonise Sudan at any cost.

    A more grave humanitarian crisis exists in the DR Congo but the international NGO machine has decided to pour its hundreds of millions of dollars into Darfur, into distributing Arabic bibles, into the setting up of churches, into inculcating the huge, innocent refugee camp population, into encouraging them to migrate to Israel – a country that has serious demographic challenges, and the list goes on…

    Rest assured if we had a sectarian divide like the one in Iraq, it would have been fomented to further fragment and weaken the nation.

    No one can say that war crimes haven’t been committed in Darfur – Professor Antonio Cassese’s UN Report of 2004 reached that conclusion.

    But war crimes have also recently been committed in Somalia by Ethiopia (darling of the West), in Gaza by Israel and in Sri Lanka by its government.

    Moreno-Ocampo knows nothing of Sudan, of the Zaghawa, Fur, Masaalit, Beni Halba, Mahamid, Tarjam, Berti, Miseriya or Gur’aan.

    The powers that be want to target Sudan’s collective national identity which is historically counter-hegemonic (from the days of the Mahdiyya) and highly spiritually driven.

    They want this indispensible country – the bridge between Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile’s main vessel with all its resources to be led by ‘rebels’ who have been groomed in the hotels of Paris.

    Not under my watch.

  2. mohanad Elbalal March 5, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    The ICC is a kangaroo court that believes justice or injustice in this case is only reserved for africans, were was the ICC on guantanamo or Iraq or afghanistan.

  3. wei March 5, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    As a Chinese I am very concerned what really happens in Darfur. There are enough reports here in north America about the suffer of Sudanese people, but given that Sudan is pretty much still in the civil war I think it’s hard to accuse just one party only. History has proved you cannot develop your country while having war with each other. I hope all parties in Sudan can compromise and negotiate a peace agreement. Africa countries in the past ten years have proved themselve capable of growing steadily like any other fast growing countries in the world. Stop fighting and start building!

  4. Eu March 5, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Wei

    If certain powers stopped financing, arming and grooming our rebels then there would be more building and less fighting in Africa.

    Long may China’s peaceful rise continue.

  5. sudaneseoptimist March 5, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    “They want this indispensible country – the bridge between Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile’s main vessel with all its resources to be led by ‘rebels’ who have been groomed in the hotels of Paris.

    Not under my watch.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    The Darfur crisis has been used time and time again to shine a bad light on the Sudanese government. Even with all their faults and mishaps, they are still partially cooperative, unlike many other governments who do not respond to threats.

    Al-Bashir reduced the price of electricity for Sudanese citizens somewhere between 20-30%… now we all know this is shameless ass kissing, but that in itself proves Al-Bashir to be somewhat willing to make nice with his people.

    Why couldn’t the ICC wait until he was no longer president? There are many ways they could have suspended his rights to participate in the upcoming elections other than indicting him before his term runs out.

    This is utterly irresponsible and another example of biased selectivity.

    “President Bashir is currently enjoying high levels of popular support all over Sudan.”

    I could not think of a more counterproductive outcome…it’s almost comedy. I mean to do the one thing that would make the hated dictator of Sudan loved by his very enemies. Bravo ICC… so much for justice!

    PS Has Ocampo ever visited Sudan? I think not.

  6. sudaneseoptimist March 5, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    Wei–

    Yes I agree, it’s hard to accuse only one party. Alot of people should be held accountable. However, the ruling NCP party has infact worked on peace agreements with other parties. Sudan is resilient, and as the largest most diverse country in Africa and the Arab world… it’s leaders have already been given a ticking bomb…Have they handeled it to the best of their ability? That’s highly subjective.

    Either way, I think internal affairs should be solved within Sudanese borders and external intervention is welcomed only when asked for…or when back when people were dying a dime a dozen and nobody did anything….

    For the ICC to take extreme measures as a means of overcompensating now when it’s too late… well that’s just Camel Shit my fellow Chinese citizen.

  7. Eu March 5, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    It’s regime change in a different guise – believe me.

    Bashir is not immortal, nor would Saddam Hussein have been but the powers that be still decided to intervene with disastrous consequences.

    Even though I wouldn’t have voted for him, I think Bashir would have won free and fair elections in Sudan – there’s a trend in developing countries for the incumbent to stay in power eg. Mexico, Nigeria…

    I think that the powers that be could not handle the prospect of Bashir’s reign in power being internationally legitimised.

    Even though I wouldn’t have / won’t vote for him, as a Sudanese citizen I respect the results of elections.
    I do not accept manipulation of the collective Sudanese right to determine their constitutional destiny.

    And regarding the ‘dictator’ label – I’d use it with caution.
    Why is it that Hosni Mubarak and King AbdAllah AlSaud aren’t described as dictators when that’s precisely what they are?

  8. wei March 5, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    I agree that the world should rely on Sudanese themselves to sort out their problem. Outsiders come and go, but the Sudanese people in the future, no matter what, still need to live side by side. Given Sudan become one of the fast growing African countries in the past few years, and recently the government and the rebel groups intended to make peace in Doha, I think Sudan is on the right track. This ICC warrant will only prop up the rebels, dissuade them from further peace talks, and prolong the war in Sudan. It will be the Sudanese people who will pay the ultimate price.

  9. wei March 6, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    some proof added to my argument from CFR:

    “Any weakening in the ruling party could irrevocably upset the fragile balance holding Sudan together. The NCP has fostered inequalities between Khartoum and Sudan’s vast periphery that are seen as continuing to feed the conflict in Darfur and the unrest in the south. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 with strong backing from the United States, provides a framework for power sharing and wealth sharing between Sudan’s north and south. The CPA does not clearly apply to Darfur, however, and one rebel group there that recently began a round of negotiations (AP) with Khartoum has pulled out in light of the ICC indictment.”

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/18684/after_indictment_sudan_holds_its_breath.html?breadcrumb=%2Findex

  10. Eu March 6, 2009 at 4:07 am #

    US policy on Sudan is perplexing and contradictory to say the least.

    The Bush administration first pushes for the signing of the CPA then stops normalisation ties over the crisis in Darfur…

    The Clinton administration before them refuses to have senior international criminals handed over to them and wrongly bombs a pharmaceutical company.

    Andrew Natsios, a seasoned diplomat who knows Sudan and the Sudanese is disgnated US envoy and suddenly resigns due to power struggles between the Department of State and other centres of power in the Bush administration, and he is replaced by a notorious, swash-buckling William Richardson who achieved…nothing.

    I wouldn’t really rely on the CFA’s reports too much.

  11. lola March 6, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    “Most of all, I regret that the ICC has deprived Sudanese citizens of the chance to determine the fate of their own country’s president through democratic means.”

    “I regret that the inappropriately overzealous Luis Ocampo and the ICC exploited the conflict in Darfur to flex their muscles and show that the newly formed court is a judicial institution with teeth.”

    First of all the ICC is not a newly formed organization. It’s been around for some time (http://www.iccnow.org/?mod=icchistory). Also, the ICC has not deprived us Sudanese of choosing our fate. We haven’t been able to choose our fate for 20 years (so why does it matter now??), plus, the elections this summer would have been rigged anyways. And even if they aren’t rigged, does Bashir really deserve another chance? I don’t think so.
    We shouldn’t take the court’s decision personally. Bashir was in the wrong and the court acted out in the hopes of bringing justice. Nothing wrong that. No crime should go unpunished.

  12. Eu March 6, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Assumptions and statements of fact about future events simply do not hold water.

    The elections are to be internationally monitored by the parties witness to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – according to the Interim Constitution Chapter 2, 216 (1).

    We haven’t been able to determine our fate for the past 20 years – why does it matter now?

    I don’t follow the logic in that line of argumentation.

    In the past 20 years the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was only signed in 2005 bringing an end to the North-South civil war, it ushered in sweeping constitutional changes, it stipulates elections for the whole of Sudan and a referendum for the South.

    And within Darfur itself what of the crimes of the rebels – why haven’t they been designated as terrorist organisations like the PKK in Turkey and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka?

    Why hasn’t their recruitment of child soldiers, trade in marijuana and targeting of civilian infrastructure in the failed attempt to attach Omdurman from Chad been condemned?

    No crime should go unpunished is a very noble hypothetical statement.

    How is the ICC translating that into reality across the globe???

  13. pug_ster March 6, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    I think the Western Media got us thinking that once Bashir and his cronies are removed from power the situation in Sudan is solved. It does not. It will create a power vacuum in Sudan and then it will lead to a civil war, much like what happened to Saddam when he was removed from power at 2003. In Iraq, it cost US a trillion dollars, thousands of troops died, and more than 500,000 civilians died. Is removing Bashir worth this kind of effort? Unfortunately, the West doesn’t have any plans to stabilize the Sudan region once Bashir is removed from power or have a solution for the refugees in Darfur. So getting Bashir arrested is penny wise, but pound foolish move.

  14. sudaneseoptimist March 7, 2009 at 1:24 am #

    Lola—

    If every Sudanese adopted your fatalistic attitude, when would not be able to advance. Thankfully though, there have been advacment, and regardless of how minor they are, they happened and Al-Bashir has cooperated.
    I fully agree with you, criminals should be held accountable. But timing is key here. We’re not talking civil torts the guy next door committed. We’re talking head of state. A sitting head of state. The whole country’s fate is dependent on this. So let’s not fall into the romanticized notion of justice, and adopt a pragmatic approach that will truly benefit the most amounts of people. The ICC’s decision is anything but that.

    And by the way, 2002 IS infact new.

    Eu–

    How is the ICC translating that into reality across the globe???

    Simple–it’s not. Conspiracy theories and other crap aside, the ICC is clearly not in this for pure altruistic humanitarian motives.

    Like you said, what about all the atrocities across the globe? Why Sudan…and most importantly, why NOW?

    Pug_Ster–

    “Unfortunately, the West doesn’t have any plans to stabilize the Sudan region once Bashir is removed from power or have a solution for the refugees in Darfur. So getting Bashir arrested is penny wise, but pound foolish move.”

    My sentiments exactly, dear! This move has no positive implications for any Sudanese citizens. The ones that might have been satisfied with this are, unfortunately, long gone. No one helped them then. No one is helping their loved ones currently in refugee camps right now. *shakes head*

  15. Eu March 7, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    And isn’t it ironic that the vast majority of the Sudanese opposition (save for one radical party who counts a prominent Darfur rebel as its disciple) are:

    1) Against President Bashir’s arrest warrant

    2) Weary of the Darfur rebels’ fragmentation and obstructiveness in peace negotations

    3) Fearful of the currently unbalanced international political response to the crisis and the repurcussions it could have on Sudan and 9 other countries in North, East, West and Central Africa!!!!!!!

  16. Kizzie March 8, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    PS Has Ocampo ever visited Sudan? I think not.

    I read somewhere that he didn’t, some ICC staff visited Khartoum, they weren’t allowed to go to Darfur.

  17. Hassan March 23, 2009 at 2:17 am #

    I dont know if Al Bashir is innocent or guilty. But I do know that he has been President for nearly 20 years and that just cant be right. I also know that he has not been freely elected by the Sudanese people. I am looking forward to elections in Sudan this year and would be VERY surprised if Al Bashir wins a free vote. I hope he does not. I dont want him over thrown, imprisoned or anything like that …I just want him to loose the elections, retire and leave the country to continue on a path of peace, reconciliation and development. May God help Sudan.

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